The Fallacy Behind the Downtown Growth Story

Wendell Cox delves into the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau that have prompted some to herald a return to America's downtowns, and argues that reports of such population growth are vastly overblown.
October 2, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Although some news reports of the latest Census Bureau numbers showing America's downtown population growth were careful to note the attendant growth in suburban and exurban areas, Cox shows just how exaggerated the ratio of the latter to the former is. "[T]o characterize the trend since 2000 as reflective of any 'flocking' to the cities is to exaggerate the trend of downtown improvement beyond recognition," says Cox. "Among the 51 major metropolitan areas (those with more than 1 million population), nearly 99 percent of all population growth between 2000 and 2010 was outside the downtown areas."

While Cox's reasoning for the increasing popularity of the nation's downtowns, which he attributes largely to "efforts to make crime infested urban cores suitable for habitation," is suspect, his breakdown of the Census numbers is hard to argue with.

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Published on Monday, October 1, 2012 in New Geography
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